Important Longevity To-Dos for Your 70s

7 Simple Tip to Improve Your Health and Well-Being

People's health in their 70s varies a lot. Some people are completely healthy while others have multiple illnesses. No matter what your condition, there is a lot you can do to improve your health, prevent illnesses, and keep your brain sharp.

Here is a list of longevity "to-dos" that will have you feeling better and living longer. Embark on one or two per month with the aim of remaining consistent and progressing as your health and wellness improve.

1

Live With Purpose

Laughing senior woman wearing a volunteer shirt at a food drive

Steve Debenport / Getty Images

One of the things in common about the world's longest-lived people is that they have a strong sense of purpose as they grow older. Much of this is reflected in the role elders play in traditional cultures. Unlike in the United States, older people in some cultures are often revered and turned to for advice and counsel.

This doesn't mean that older adults here should give up on finding purpose for themselves. To find purpose in your life:

  • Engage in daily practices. This may involve walking, yoga, meditation, or other practices in which you can progress and improve.
  • Be creative. Arts, crafts, music, and writing are artistic ways of being creative, but there are other ways to feel creative. It may be taking up cooking a new cuisine, taking a stab at indoor gardening, or finding hobbies that you never had time for before in the past.
  • Join clubs. Even if you are relatively self-sufficient, joining a club puts you in touch with people of similar interests with whom you can build friendships and embark on special projects you would never dream of doing yourself.
  • Play. Play is not reserved for young people. Whether it be active sports or board games, scheduling playtime provides you something to look forward to on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Volunteer. People can contribute no matter how old they are. It may be offering time to the local library to read to children or pitching in at the local food bank on a regular basis. Volunteering allows you to give back and contribute to society in a substantive way.
2

Maintain Healthy Sleep Habits

Senior couple sleeping in bed

GlobalStock / Getty Images

There is a myth that older people need less sleep. This is simply not true. Older people need the same amount of sleep as young adults; the general recommendation is seven to nine hours per night. 

The challenge is that health conditions, medications, and poor sleep habits can make it difficult for older adults to get the rest they need.

It is important to take time in your 70s to make your sleep habits a priority. There are several key ways to improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Maintain a regular sleep routine.
  • Avoid daytime naps.
  • Don't stay in bed awake for more than five to 10 minutes.
  • Don't watch TV, use the computer, or read in bed.
  • Drink caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and colas with caution.
  • Have a quiet, comfortable, and dark bedroom.

Consistency is key. By maintaining these practices every day, they will soon become a habit and afford you more consistent sleep patterns.

3

Avoid Falls

Senior couple doing yoga outside

gradyreese / Getty Images

Falls are a common source of injuries and disabilities as people age. Not only does it take longer for an older person to recover from a fall, but, in some cases, a fall can be calamitous, particularly if it causes a hip fracture.

The problem is bigger than some people think, with over 700,000 people hospitalized in the United States each year as a result of a fall.

Among some of the things you can do to prevent falls:

  • Take time to assess the potential fall risks in your house.
  • Make a habit of using handrails, installing them where needed (such as in the bathtub).
  • Be sure that all your stairs are well lit, installing lights if needed.
  • Don't avoid using mobility devices, even at home.
  • Practice balance exercises, ideally under the supervision of an instructor or physical therapist, to prevent falls from stumbles or missteps.
  • Avoid any risky behaviors that can lead to falls, such as drinking or mixing your medications with alcohol.

It is also important to have a hands-free medical alert system installed in your home, particularly if you live alone and are frail.

4

Exercise Regularly

Older couple riding bikes in the park

Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Exercise doesn't only help keep the weight off and build muscle, but it can also help you feel great and live longer. Routine exercise in older adults is linked to improvements in emotional, psychological, cognitive, and social function as well as improved mobility and endurance.

When done appropriately, exercise training in older people is associated with a reduction in blood pressure and cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and stroke. Moreover, researchers have found that people who expended the most energy during daily activities are 32% less likely to die over a six-year period.

Despite these benefits, exercise levels among older adults remain low, teetering well below the recommended 150 minutes per week.

Your body is built to be active; be sure that it gets moving every day. Going for walks, joining group exercise classes, and engaging in other routine activities can keep you healthy, energized, and help you sleep better.

Before embarking on any exercise plan, meet with your doctor to assess how much exercise you can reasonably tolerate, particularly if you have a heart or respiratory condition.

It also helps to find a physical therapist or personal trainer experienced with older adults to create a program appropriate to your age and health status.

5

Engage Your Brain

Older man doing a crossword puzzle

JG I /Tom Grill / Getty Images

Your brain needs exercise. It thrives on puzzles, new experiences, and making connections. Even if you are retired, don't let your brain go into retirement.

Studies have shown that older adults who play bridge or chess score higher on working memory and reasoning measures, while those who do crossword puzzles are better able to maintain cognition than those who watch TV.

Be sure that you find things that interest you, that make you curious, and that challenge your brain. You can start with puzzles like crosswords or Sudoku and then move to more challenging things, like learning a new language, playing chess, or reading about a science topic.

Once something becomes routine and the sense of discovery wears off, you should move to something new.

Routine exercise can also improve cognitive function in people 65 and over, with some studies reporting that people who walked 72 or more blocks per week maintained cognitive function better than those who were largely sedentary.

6

Eat Fruits and Vegetables

Senior woman holding a bunch of radishes in her garden

Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

Research has shown that the more fruits and vegetables you eat as an older adult, the healthier you will be. Study after study has described the cholesterol-reducing, heart-healthy benefits of eating plants as well as the impact of increased dietary fiber on a person's gastrointestinal health.

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), people over the age of 50 should consume between 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits and 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables each day. The guidelines place an emphasis on consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Studies have shown that older people with high levels of carotenoids (organic compounds found in pumpkins, carrots, corn, and tomatoes) in their blood were 50% more likely to survive for five years compared to counterparts with low carotenoid levels.

7

Maintain a Healthy Sex Life

Senior couple embracing and kissing

LWA-Dann Tardif / Getty Images

Sex is a part of life and a part of health. Maintaining a healthy sex life benefits you emotionally and physically.

Sex in your 70s may be different than in your youth but can be no less rewarding. With that said, according to a 2019 study in Sexual Medicine, the rewards can be different in men and women:

  • Among sexually active older men, frequent (more than twice monthly) sexual intercourse along with frequent kissing, petting, or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life measures.
  • Among sexually active older women, frequent kissing, petting, or fondling was associated with greater enjoyment of life. Frequent intercourse, by contrast, had little impact on this measure.

According to a survey from the American Association of Retired People (AARP), 40% of adults 65 to 80 are sexually active, while two-thirds of the survey respondents stated that they were still interested in sex.

A Word From Verywell

Whatever your age, it is important to become a master of your health. This means understanding your health risks and concerns and learning how to properly manage them.

Don't just take your medications; know their names, what they are for, and how to take them properly. Keep your regularly scheduled doctor's appointments, knowing which lab tests need to be done (and when).

When in doubt, ask questions. It is sometimes a good idea to bring a friend or family member with you if you are unclear about what the doctor is telling you. The more you know, the more informed your choices will be.

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